Back cover: "Out Of Orbit". A test version of a Russian satellite "armed with lasers" crash-lands in Indonesia and the Death Merchant - "the slickest, cruelest saboteur in the business" - must race the KGB (and the Indonesians) to nab the dangerous oktok-1.
Chapter 1: After Richard "Death Merchant" Camellion meets with CIA agent Forrest Dasher at a warehouse a few miles outside of Jakarta, they are ambushed coming out of the building. Dasher is killed; Camellion ducks back inside. He eventually kills two three-man teams of Russians and makes his escape back to the city. He thinks about the mission. (It turns out that the name of the satellite is misspelled on the back cover! It's actually Votok-1.) The US managed to override the satellite's electrical instructions and it parachuted to Earth, landing in the mountains of Indonesia. It is now apparently hidden somewhere near Jakarta. The US must possess the inner workings of the satellite at all costs, as it trails the Russians in the space weapons race.
Chapter 2: Colonel Andrew Uzhgorod heads a meeting the following morning at the Soviet Embassy in Jakarta. The Russians debate the encounter at the warehouse and offer all sort of exposition about how they tracked Dasher to the meeting. They also have an informer in the town who saw soldiers, technicians, and other Indonesians dismantling Votok. One of the Russians suspects that the lone agent who wiped out the six would-be assassins was the Cempt Tobtocpam (the Death Merchant).
Chapter 3: More discussion as Camellion (using the name James George Valdorian, a travel journalist) meets with six other men (CIA, SIS and Western Germany military intelligence) at a Jakarta safe house. They suspect that Uzhgorod is the Chief of Station at the Embassy and Camellion suggests they "blackbag" him at his house. (The men recoil in surprise, calling it a "high-octane hazard" and "suicide"). Camellion also requests a map of the city's power generating plant.
Chapter 4: Camellion and Lester Cole are near Uzhgorod's house. Cole is setting up "Mister Fuck-Up", a Microwave Impedator that renders all audio and motion detectors and alarms, etc. useless. When a diversionary explosion at the power plant plunges Jakarta into darkness, the Death Merchant goes to work, cutting a hole in a chain-link fence, killing a guard with a 2-inch steel needle coated with pure nicotine, picking the front door lock, and going inside the house. But it's a trap! Uzhgorod and four KGB attempt to take him alive, but Camellion, using martial arts and his Browning, manages to escape, but he has to kill Uzhgorod to do so.
Chapter 5: Camellion and Cole are on their way back to the getaway car when the Death Merchant has a strong hunch they might be walking into a trap. They use some listening devices and it turns out there are seven members of the Secret Police Agents hiding near the car. C&C split up and circle around and wipe out the goons with bullets and thermate. Three other cars approach and they eliminate them, as well. They steal one of those cars and drive away.
Chapter 6: Major-General Mashuri and Colonel Thojib Sadli of the Indonesian Army discuss events and suspect the two Americans are CIA agents. Although Valdorian and Cole are unlikely to return to their hotel rooms, there are agents waiting just in case. They suspect the explosion at the power plant was a distraction before the kidnap attempt. They must find the Americans, but also suspect that they might be the Americans' next target.
Chapter 7: On a balmy fall day in Tjikini Market, an elderly Chinese man (Camellion in disguise) walks around. Camellion planted listening devices in his hotel room and as they get close to the building, they can hear conversations from the waiting assassins. ("Screw a crippled crab!") He and Cole go instead to the Brass Palace to meet with Chao Bing Thepkok and his assistant. It's unclear why they go to this place, but Thepkok says the local police (GROB) were in asking about Valdorian and Cole, and they had photographs. GROB agents are returning and the four men make their escape through a tunnel accessed from the back room. Camellion leaves behind some explosives to destroy the building and kill the agents. The tunnel exits in a garage owned by Thepkok. Cole kills Thepkok and his assistant and he and Camellion escape in a Toyota. More planted RDX destroys the garage, killing 67 people who live nearby.
Chapter 8: At Soi-Simokk safe house. Pessimism over not finding Votok. The likelihood of nabbing Kdija or Sadli, who are very well-guarded, is small. Maybe they could grab one of their underlings. Camellion needs information on the men surrounding Kdija and Sadli. (Also a quick narrative diversion to call Indonesia food "slop".)
Chapter 9: The Death Merchant decides to get Captain Kuwloon at his apartment in the Morning Rose apartment complex in the middle of the night. GROB has agents across the hall and in the adjoining room and has planted listening devices throughout Kuwloon's apartment. Camellion and Cole sneak in the back of the building, while three others go in front of the apartment house and kill the desk clerk. "Sleeping peacefully, the numerous residents of the apartment house didn't realize that the Cosmic Lord of Death was about to descend on the Morning Rose ..."
Chapter 10: Up the elevator to the 9th floor. Camellion and Cole break into the apartment and quickly kill the 2 half-asleep GROB agents acting as guards. They head for Kuwloon's bedroom and gather him, his wife, and children in one room. Cole has found listening devices and tells Camellion. Camellion takes his Auto Mags and fires through the walls into the adjoining apartments, killing several men and confusing the others. Cole comes out of the bedroom saying that GROB has hidden Votok "in the temple of Pura Besakih on Bali". It turns out he has also killed the entire family; Camellion is upset because Cole disobeyed orders. The surviving GROB agents from the other apartments attack, but they are stopped by a greenish gas ("diphenycyanoarsine") and shot.
Chapter 11: Alkenazy, the next day, discusses the attack on the apartment. The KGB also has information on Votok, as a female agent slept with Indonesia's Minister of the Interior. Now, with the KGB and CIA knowing the true location of Votok, the race is on! It is thought that both sides will use helicopters to bring troops to the side of the mountain.
Chapter 12: The CIA doesn't want to use any American personnel for this mission, so Camellion calls on Mad Mike Ryan and his Thunderbolt Unit: Omega (who apparently will make future appearances in the series). Nine Boeing-Vertol CH-49 copters head towards Mount Agung. They pick up 12 aircraft to the east on radar - Russian copters! But they decide not to fire on them, choosing to have the battle on Gunung Agung, near Pura Besakih, the fabled Hindu temple.
Chapter 13: Fighter jets start the battle from the air, raining down missiles on the temple and the surrounding area. The Indonesian army - a force of 3,000 - is in the clearing around Pura Besakih, but are undertrained and uncertain about firing their weapons. They are summarily slaughtered by both the US and Soviet fighters jets and by the guns aboard the helicopters.
Chapter 14: The Indonesians believed that only the Americans would be attacking and are stunned when the Russians also appear. After jumping out of their copters on opposite sides of the temple area, both the Americans and Russians begin firing missiles at the closest wall of the temple, as whoever gets inside the temple first will have a great advantage in finding the satellite. Both sides plan to lay down a cover of smoke grenades and make a straight-in charge.
Chapter 15: On the DM's side, they race to the temple and are not fired upon by what remains of the Indonesian force. Tossing in grenades and firing machine guns, both sides pour into the temple at nearly the same time. The US has an advantage as they have specially-rigged crossbows that can carry grenades - which they fire across the Sanctum area to where the Russians are. "Two Black Berets and a Soviet Marine became an assortment of arms, legs, and bloody, twisted entrails."
Chapter 16: Camellion, Cole and six mercenaries are hiding behind a huge statue of Siva when they realizes there may be Indonesians hiding inside. There is: Kdija, Sadli, and three others. The DM tosses in a couple of grenades, blowing them apart. Upon inspecting the damage, he spies a door to an underground room and surmises this is where the satellite is being hidden. He plants explosives - and blows the statue apart. When it comes crashing down, it crushes 74 Russian troops. Then Camellion places five blocks of HBX on the underground crates, set the timers, and make their escape. "Once more World War III had been avoided. There would be peace ... for a time ..."
The climatic battle in Operation Skyhook is pretty weak, with Rosenberger offering very little violent interaction between the two forces. Each side goes about its business without much interactions from the other. And the ending comes too abruptly, as though Rosenberger had reached his page limit and wanted to quickly wrap things up.
"Nothing ever came easy in this business - except dying, and I won't be lucky enough to die by a bullet. I'll probably end up broke and living to be ninety, spending my days counting mule fritters!"
..."blowing a hole in the man the diameter of an averaged-sized orange".
"[Camellion fired] seven rounds, three of which struck Sibramanian, killing him faster than a Jew travelling through Damascus on a pogo stick."
"Killing the sons-of-bitches would be as easy as using a shotgun to shoot a baby whale in a bathtub ..."
"Ever look into those eyes of his? I mean really look? It's like a dozen ice picks playing 'Chop Sticks' on your spine."
Rosenberger continues to flip-flop as far as how much information about the Death Merchant is known to foreign governments. Sometimes Camellion is infamous in the spy underworld; other times, like in Operation Skyhook, his identity is not known to any KGB/GRU agents.